I read an interesting article by Rosemary Neil a few weeks ago. “So true!” I exclaimed when I read this:

“And while the under-25s are often perceived as a generation of reluctant readers more interested in [the reality TV show] Big Brother than in the Orwellian version, unprecedented numbers of them apparently want to be writers.”

She backs this up with this statistic: at the University of Technology (Sydney) last year, there were 278 undergraduates and 205 postgraduates studying creative writing. At the University of Melbourne, 520 students enrolled in two courses in creative writing.

Wow, that’s a lot of writers. And that’s in only 2 universities. We do seem to be churning out a lot of writers. But then here’s the downside: creative writing courses are spreading whilst English literature courses are declining. And many of the big publishers don’t publish as many literary novels as they once did.

This is sad. How I wished I studied English Lit at university. Can you imagine an average Malaysian parent allowing their child to study such a non-vocational subject? “Son, you must either be a doctor, lawyer, accountant or engineer”. Maybe that refrain has changed slightly now to include the MBA and IT degree. But English Literature? Pah!

Yet creative writing is such a different animal from English Lit. Creative writing is a craft. You may never have your book published but there’s your blog, your journal, your silent moments of being yourself, creating something out of nothing. This is centering and brings meaning, even for one fleeting moment. You might never know the difference between James Joyce and Anne Rice, but you’re doing something worthwhile.

But back to English Lit. Perhaps one day I’ll enroll as a mature student (perhaps very mature, by then) and study great literature, stunning writing the captures the essence of life. Until then, I’ve got this blog, my writing and life still goes on…

Would you like to study English Lit?